In the Rebels’ first game of the Southeastern Conference tournament, Ole Miss fell to South Carolina 60-58 on a highly contested 3-shot foul with only .7 of a second remaining in the game.
“I’m still in a little bit of shock based on the ending,” coach Andy Kennedy said. “Two teams played really hard, as you expect at this time of the season, understanding that if you lose, you go home.”
Ole Miss and South Carolina battled for the entire game, but both teams had trouble getting shots to fall throughout the night. The Rebels ended the night shooting 30 percent from the floor and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Senior Jarvis Summers gave Ole Miss the 1-point lead with 3.3 seconds left, hitting a corner 3 and drawing a foul for the go-ahead bucket. But on the final possession of the long night, South Carolina senior Tyrone Johnson rushed the ball up court, drew a foul on his own 3-point attempt and made all three shots to lift the Gamecocks to the 60-58 win.
“Jarvis made a huge play, and then we were trying to make them make a hard shot in the last possession, and unfortunately it didn’t turn out the way we would have hoped,” Kennedy said.
In the first 20 minutes of play, the Rebels found themselves down to South Carolina, having to play from behind. Ole Miss was down 26-16 before going on a 8-1 run to close out the half with LaDarius White and Terrance Smith draining back-to-back 3s.
The Rebels shot 83 percent from the line in the first half to keep it close, also outrebounding the Gamecocks 44-33. Ole Miss’ 21 turnovers, however, contributed to the consistent uphill battle from start to finish.
“We struggled all night offensively,” Kennedy said. “If you look at our 12 losses, there is a common theme, and that’s our inability to find any rhythm offensively. We stayed in the game because defensively we were pretty good and we battled in some effort areas to give ourselves a chance down the stretch.”
South Carolina moves on to face Georgia tonight. Ole Miss now awaits for Sunday’s tournament selection, hopeful to make it to the Big Dance.
Adam Brown is HottyToddy.com sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.